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Exhibitions spotlight pivotal moments in ICA history

In honor of its 50th anniversary, the ICA has presented three exhibitions highlighting pivotal moments in its development. Collectively titled ``Dissent,'' the exhibitions began with ``The Expressionist Challenge'' (Dec. 5, 1985-Feb. 9, 1986), a didactic examination of the ICA's support for Northern European and German Expressionist art, much of which was declared ``degenerate'' by the Nazis during the 1930s and '40s. The second exhibition, ``Revolt in Boston: Fear vs. Freedom,'' (Feb. 18-April 20) re-created the controversial period of the late '40s, when the Boston museum changed its name from the Institute of Modern Art to the the Institute of Contemporary Art. This seemingly benign revision was interpreted by the artistic left as a forsaking of advanced art, and by the political right as a public admission of modernism's worthless ness. Both of these impressions were further solidified when, in 1949, the ICA presented a show titled ``American Painting in Our Century,'' which deliberately avoided such emerging Abstract Expressionist giants as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Pressured on all sides, the ICA finally issued a joint manifesto with the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1950, in support of both abstraction and modernism.

Completing the ``Dissent'' series is the exhibition ``As Found'' (April 30-June 15), a reference to a 1966 exhibition of the same name, for which the ICA invited a group of artists to exhibit found objects from the environment. This show was conceived as an expansion of Marcel Duchamp's ``ready-made idea,'' which pronounced that everything -- including the most banal industrial object -- is art when placed in a gallery context. For the current exhibit, the ICA will show work by a number of well-known contemporary artists, including Jenny Holzer and Sherrie Levine, who appropriate imagery from movies, television, and print media, thus echoing the idea that art is all around us.

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